More bodies found in Eel River Search in Mendocino County


Search teams found and identified family members who disappeared more than a week ago while on a road trip from OR to California. Their disappearance coincided with reports that a vehicle had sunk into the Eel River in Northern California.

Authorities say they have recovered their SUV with two bodies inside, the father and his 9-year-old daughter.

The body of the fourth family member, 38-year-old Souyma Thottapilly, was recovered Friday about 7 miles north of the crash site in an area that had been previously covered by the river.

An inter-agency search and rescue team in California also recovered personal belongings of the four members of the family from Santa Clarita in California, who were believed to be travelling through Humboldt and Mendocino County on US-101 while on a vacation, early last week.

When the Thottapillys had not shown up on the afternoon of April 8, Soumya's relatives called the San Jose Police Department, Officer Gina Teeporten told India-West.

Officials last week determined the vehicle belonged to the Thottapilly family.

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Deceased Sandeep Thottapilly was the Vice President of the Union Bank on Santa Clarita.

The poster shared on Facebook described the family's vehicle as a maroon or burgundy 2016 Honda Pilot. While they were crossing the bridge over the river in northern Mendocino County, there was a sudden rainstorm and their vehicle plunged into river Eel. Searchers found auto parts and determined that they came from a maroon Honda Pilot.

Rescue crews found and recovered the family's van on Sunday, about a mile north of where the crash took place.

Farther south along the Mendocino County coast, authorities continue to look for members of a family missing since an SUV made a deadly and possibly intentional plunge off a towering ocean bluff along State Route 1 last month.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the SUV at the time. The other three are feared to be dead.

The force of the river caused a lot of damage to the vehicle and windows to break, said Bartley, theorizing that Soumya Thottapilly was likely shaken loose from the force of the water, and floated away in the rapid river.